Website Appearance Matters
By: Joe Bryant
In our overview article on web design we talked briefly on several topics. This article will concentrate more on what we said was the most important piece of the web design process, appearance.
Browsing any website, yours included, is intensely visual. The extent to which your website’s design grabs and holds a visitors attention, particularly in the first few seconds, is the single most important factor in determining whether they stay on your site or not. Obviously, if they are not going to visit for more than few seconds, the likelihood of converting that viewer to a buyer or client is slim.
The conversion rate is the percentage of visitors that take a desired action. A desired action may be buying a product, signing up for a newsletter, reading a blog, or whatever you are appealing for them to do while they are on your site or viewing that specific page. So we can say that unappealing design drives down conversion rates. Low conversion rates are sometimes misinterpreted by owners / managers as a pricing issue, marketing flaw, incorrect targeting, etc. While those things could be part of the issue, you should first determine if poor or mediocre website appearance is a contributing factor. If you are unable to keep them on the site in the first place, it does not matter how good your pitch is or how deep the discount!
“So we can say that unappealing design drives down conversion rates”
Good use of color (or not) can make or break your website. That orange and purple scheme made you stand out from the competition for sure, but for all the wrong reasons. Does your website primarily use two or three colors in a scheme that blends well and creates a proper tone for the business? If not, your design is probably driving away business.
A good design will be one with a consistent layout. That is, the various pages on your site should more or less all have the same layout. You should not make your visitor have to figure out every other page they will need to navigate to in a session.
The text on your site that comprises your message is called copy. The copy should be in a font and style that is easily read by everyone. Black text on a white background is the most easily read, but other design choices are good as well. Mismatched fonts, loopy or cursive lettering, and anything animated detract from a professional image in most cases. Again, simple and consistent wins the day.
Graphics should relate directly to the copy on that page. Graphics or icons that tell the same story that lots of text would gets a big plus in this category. It’s preferable for the graphics you use to come from a set or collection to ensure style, color and design are consistent.
Let’s talk photography in particular. A picture may be worth a thousand words but graphics that seem random, poorly executed and unassociated with your business often leave visitors with a feeling of unprofessionalism. High quality photography should be used throughout your site.
Stock photo services are an alternative to employing or contracting someone for the job. That shot of an employee at the company picnic eating two chicken legs at the same time might be amusing around the office, but it sends a much different message to your website visitors.
Moderation in all things applies to web page design as well. Simple and focused text is the winning design. Pages should not be overloaded in an effort to impress. Take a look at your website. Are page layouts relatively simple, allowing for adequate white space? Is there a minimum of text, graphics, and animation, yet enough to convey the message? Efforts made by the designer in this area is called reducing the cognitive load, otherwise known as information overload.
We must address the mobile user here before we end. Most website views now happen on mobile devices like tablets and phones. Do you know what your website looks like on a mobile device? If it isn’t as appealing there as it is on a big desktop monitor, you are losing many of your visitors right away. Proper responsive design is not a luxury anymore, it’s quickly becoming job one.
Tele-Optics uses our own proprietary evaluation system to score current and potential clients’ websites. Overall design and appearance is one of the large block categories we concentrate on. Our in-depth evaluation helps us identify the problem areas in specific ways so we can address the need the right way the first time. If your current website isn’t up to par or you are thinking about a brand new site and are intimidated by the process, relax. Contact us today and we’ll help make sure that your website’s appearance is something you can be proud of.
Articles in this series
- Overview for Web Design
- Website Appearance Matters